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AI vs. Humans: Who Should You Choose to Create Your Website Content?

By Valerie DiCarlo on Nov 11, 2018

Creating quality content takes a lot of time and energy. So it’s natural to wonder: Can artificial intelligence (AI) provide you a hand with creating content for your website?

The answer is: potentially.

There are new artificial intelligence products that real companies and organizations are using to create their content. But it’s not necessarily a 1:1 replacement for a human content creator.

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So how do you know if it’s right for you now (or any time soon?). Here are some questions to help you determine if AI should replace your human content creators.

Do you need formulaic information or nuanced analysis?

Artificial intelligence can crank out a lot of content if it follows a formula. What type of content is this? Think sports scores ([Athlete A] scored [x] points in the game against [Team Y] in [location] on [Date]), or stock market updates (The Dow Jones Industrial averaged [gained/lost] [x] points after closing).

This type of content has to be produced repeatedly with a lot of attention to detail, but it’s not necessarily riveting. It doesn’t require wit or brilliant sentence construction to engage its target audience. It’s all the “x’s” in the formula that people tune in for.

In fact, The Washington Post created software to write this type of formulaic information right before the 2016 Olympics in Rio. They had to provide a lot of very specific (but formulaic) information to report rapidly and accurately on the outcomes of sporting events. Artificial intelligence helped them out with that.

But what artificial intelligence can’t do (at least yet) is write all of the back stories of athletes that make us cheer in our living rooms when we see them overcome obstacles on the world stage. The Washington Post still had to send reporters to Brazil to do that job.

How much does your audience value personality?

Industries that need to update their audiences about a lot of technical information without personality are more likely to be a good match for AI than industries that rely on pizzazz.

A few examples? An industrial firm that needs to update its audience on specific features on its products probably needs to provide just the facts, ma’am. In contrast, you have personality-based companies like the news organization The Skimm, whose value relies on a relational tone and friend-like voice.

If your business model relies on personality, then content produced by AI probably isn’t right for you.

How much of your audience reads how much of your content?

If you have a large number of people reading each piece of content you produce, you probably shouldn’t look to AI right now. But if you need to produce a large amount of content that will each garner a smaller, but unique, audience, AI might be a good fit for your business model.

Here’s another sports example to illustrate this: Think about high school soccer.

The parents (and grandparents and aunts and uncles) of the players care a lot about the outcomes of these matches. But the total number of parents for each high school game adds up to fewer people than would read an in-depth analysis of the Women’s World Cup final. You’d need to produce a lot of content—something like a report on every high school soccer match in a region—to get as big of an audience as a leading analysis of a major sporting event.

So if your business model relies on creating a lot of very specific content for smaller audiences, rather than in-depth content for a large audience, AI may be a good option for you. You can cover a lot of ground with less work, and the audience isn’t going to be too picky about the details.

One example of a product that does this is Quill, which was created by Narrative Science to put words around a lot of information from spreadsheets.

What medium are you producing content for?

Most of the examples thus far have referred to long form content—whether they are blogs or news articles. But that’s not the only way you can use content produced by AI. Enter, chat bots.

Yes, you’d need to script conversations for a chat bot to whip out on cue. However, machine learning (a subset of AI) can actually analyze sentiment based on word patterns, as well as recognize and personalize information, to best align the pre-programmed conversation to match the customer’s need. Overall, this can create a better user experience. 

How much time are you willing to invest in the platform itself?

At this point, content produced by AI needs to be highly customized and supervised on the front end of the process. For example, Wordsmith, created by Automated Insights, needs a lot of instruction about how to turn spreadsheets into sentences that are natural enough to appeal to reader.

Consequently, you need to weigh the time an AI content system will save you with the time it will take you to set it up to run well.

What does your content development budget look like?

AI-produced content is expensive for now. At this point, it’s really only used by major companies working on a very large scale. But that said, it’s a market that is growing quickly, and worth keeping an eye on. The price can only come down at this point, so it’s worth evaluating if this is a market that your business would benefit from when the technology becomes cost-effective.

Are you interested in learning more about how to leverage online content to benefit your company’s bottom line? Contact me for a free consultation.